japonisme: the flowering of japan in van gogh's heart

21 April 2007

the flowering of japan in van gogh's heart

For two centuries, Japan discouraged trade with the rest of the world. In the 1850s, however, the country finally bowed to outside pressure and opened its ports to foreign vessels and Western commercial interests. Japanese prints, lacquerware, and porcelains flooded into Europe, creating a craze for furniture and crafts of Japanese design.

European artists were eager to abandon the staid conventions of academic art, and they freely imitated the bold, pure color, assertive outlines, and cropped compositions of Japanese prints. Japanese art created an indelible impression on Van Gogh.

He, like many of his colleagues, avidly collected woodblock prints: "We like Japanese painting, we are influenced by it-all Impressionists have that in common."1

The nineteenth-century woodblock print by Keisai Eisen depicting a high-ranking courtesan (
oiran) was reproduced in reverse on the cover of Paris Illustré, in a special edition entitled "Le Japon" (May 1886).

When Van Gogh saw the magazine, he made a tracing of the cover incorporating a grid that he later transferred in enlarged form to canvas.

[this is the same method he used when making the other above copies]

and this is van gogh's friend whom he called pere tanguy. he was an art supply dealer.
i would love to find the originals for all of the prints shown behind him (in both versions), as well as in the few additional prints in which he featured them, but so far no luck.

(previous coverage here)

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Blogger Diane Dehler said...

-Lovely line up, Japonisme. Are you planning on going to that conference in Chicago?

22 April, 2007 21:22  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

conference? in chicago?

22 April, 2007 21:50  
Anonymous bradley said...

For over 200 years, Japan under shogun rule purposely isolated itself from the outside world, sealing its border except to a few Dutch traders permitted to inhabit the outskirts of the country. This changed in 1854 when American Commodore Matthew Perry, flexing military muscle, persuaded the Japanese to open their borders under the Kanagawa Treaty. With the doors flung open, decorative and fine art goods flooded the international markets. In these imported goods were particular objects of interest, the ukiyo-e print. Careful study of these prints by the French Impressionist and Post Impressionists resulted in many works bearing the mark of japonisme, “or serious concern for Japanese pictorial techniques.” Although the fascination with all things Japanese was far reaching it was in Paris that painters gave the art a sympathetic response and really examined it. Vincent van Gogh wholly embraced and internalized the ukiyo-e print more than his contemporaries. The japonisme transported by the ukiyo-e provided a catalyst for his future work. Van Gogh would approach the conflicting aims of expression through composition in color and through the dynamic line, ultimately achieving a reconciliation of the two. art student in singapore

31 March, 2011 05:30  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

as i said.... ;^)

31 March, 2011 08:36  

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